Summary: This is a narrative sermon that tells the story of Ruth and Boaz.
A ROYAL WEDDING
Mother’s Day is typically a time to emphasize and celebrate not just motherhood, but home and family. And the surrounding weeks are also popular seasons for weddings.
With the storms of last week, the Royal Wedding of William and Kate did not get as much local attention as it would otherwise. Still, most everyone has seen at least some video of the event with all the pomp and fanfare and the atmosphere not just of a royal wedding but of a fairy tale wedding.
Lots of people want their weddings to be royal. At least, on that day, Grooms and Brides are Princes and a Princess. The wedding ceremony is a great picture of the prince and the princess dynamic – the love and respect is evident, and it is beautiful. You are probably never better dressed than you are on your wedding day. Few events are as formal as your wedding ceremony. Weddings make me nervous because you want everything to go just right with charm, eloquence, and beauty. It is the pinnacle of romance and we do love romance.
According to Harlequin publishing house, which has been in the romance business for half a century, more than 180 million romance novels are purchased each year, with Harlequin itself selling, on average, five-and-a-half books per second.
But we also acknowledge that a grand wedding does not guarantee a grand marriage. The real evidence of a quality marriage is not found in the pageantry with which it starts, but in the places where it goes.
The Bible has some point-blank instructions to married couples, complete with some real-life examples. (Let’s be honest: some examples are better than others.) We’re going to follow Ruth and Boaz for a few minutes, and simply observe some stages about courtship and marriage.
Do you know the story of Ruth and Boaz? It took place about 3000 years ago and is recorded in the eighth book of the Bible. Four simple chapters describe how their romance moved quickly from meeting, to dating, into marriage, and children. If you’re not familiar with the story, here is how it takes place. Let me warn you, it begins in tragedy…actually a series of tragedies.
Once upon a time a lady named Naomi. She lived in with her husband Elimelech and their two sons, Mahon and Kilion in Bethlehem. Yes it was the same Bethlehem where Jesus would be born about 1000 years later. The first tragedy is a famine that forces Naomi and her family to do what he would never do otherwise, move out of country to the land of Moab. But fleeing tragedy they ran into greater tragedy. Elimelech died, leaving Naomi with her two sons. Making the best of life that they could the sons married Moabite wives named Orpah and Ruth. But ten years later there is tragedy again in that both sons died. THIS story starts in the kind of tragedy out of which operas are written!
Naomi does what lots of folks do in times of tragedy: she goes home. The famine is over now, and the promise of better days is back in Bethlehem. Naomi and Orpah are determined to go with Naomi and so these three widows pack up their world and head out. But hardly had they reached the main road to Judah when Naomi tries to talk them into going back to Moab. She says, Go back to your mother’s home. May the Lord show kindness to you as you have shown to my sons and to me. May the Lord help you find husbands.
They kissed and hugged and wept greatly. But Ruth and Orpah said they were determined to stay with Naomi. Naomi pleaded with them again to find their future at home in Moab and not with her. They wept and hugged and kissed some more. Eventually Orpah turned and headed back home. But Naomi was not to be deterred, giving Naomi what are the most familiar words of the entire story:
Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God.
Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me.”Ruth 1:16-17 NKJV
I doubt we can fully appreciate the courage it took for Ruth to make that decision. And seeing Ruth’s determination to go, Naomi stopped trying to convince her otherwise. Also, Ruth choosing to leave the worship of the pagan gods of the Moabites and follow Naomi’s God is a tribute to the testimony of Naomi’s example.
The two widows arrival in Bethlehem was a homecoming of sorts, with many remembering Naomi. But for Naomi, who had buried a husband and two sons since the time she left, there was no happiness in this homecoming. She was a different person and even suggested they call her by a different name. Naomi meant sweetness, but she said to call her Mara, bitterness, because God had made her life very bitter.